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The home of Heironimous Bosch

11 Jun

S’ Hertogenbosch is a pretty town in the Netherlands, famed as the home of  the Heironimous Bosch who was born there around 1450 died there in 1516.

I like an artist who is not afraid of changing their name, and despite no original paintings by the stand alone master, this town has AMAZING BALLS!


People queue for Bossche bollen (chocoladebollen) and after eating one of the giant cream filled chocolatey pastry balls of deliciousness, I can see why!

Oh my god, knife and fork and exercise required

Oh my god, knife and fork and exercise required

Almost undoubtedly, as was vogue among his contemporaries in Italy, Bosch changed his name  to Heironimous Bosch , probably to reflect and to draw attention to his home, ie ‘s-Hertogenbosch (the Duke’s – Hertog – woods – bosch), but perhaps also to distinguish himself from the Van Aken name he was born with, as his dad, uncles and brothers were all into the art game. Alas there is no surviving grave for me to visit and frottage either, so this post is more about the highlights I found in a few hours when visiting this delightful town. Spelling is different everywhere so please do not quote me.

The first thing you are confronted with in this magical town after disembarking the ridiculously convenient intercity train is the magnificent golden dragon atop a mighty pole in the middle of a super fountain on the first traffic island. I view this as a sentinel for the town, which stimulated the imagination of one of the greatest artists of all time.





Knit bombing, guerilla crochet and other yarns…

23 May

The small city of Utrecht in the Netherlands is a charming place filled with canals, bicycles, the tallest cathedral in the Netherlands and lovely parks. A short stroll down my canal side street on my first day here revealed a very exciting public artwork. The artist/s are unknown, it is probably illegal, but is one of the most delightful outdoor site specific yarn installations I have seen.

Cosy car

Cosy car

Bike bomb

Bike bomb

Crocheted canal

Crocheted canal

No barriers

No barriers

Bridge of happiness

Bridge of happiness


If you noticed from my last post that I seem to be drawn to works with an element of craft, well you would be right. I am assuming it is a sort of art envy, as although I can paint and draw, find it difficult to even sew on a button, let alone knit one –  pearl two. There is a lot of dedication, and humility in this type of  practice. I found this particular installation (which spans a footbridge adjacent to a huge bridge building site and extends 400m down one side of the canal until the next bridge) to be a delightful departure from the more predictable forms of street art, which can often damage buildings and create a psychological barrier to entering spaces where it prevails.

Graffiti v Street Art I prefer the crafty approach!

Graffiti v Street Art
I prefer the crafty approach!

I admire artists who use methods traditionally associated with craft, and curated an exhibition in Sydney in 2010 which reflected that reverence. Hands On | Craft in contemporary art featured emerging and established Australian artists whose primary mode of production involved working with yarn or other traditional craft based materials and methods to realise their work.

Human hair, buttons, telephone directories, cane toad leather, tea towels, native grasses, electrical cords, latex, socks, rags, deconstructed woolen rugs and blankets, silk,  shipping rope and fishing line were all stitched, woven, glued and pressed into a fabulous range of sculptures, installations and images. You can check out the catalogue here, but be warned, there are a few saucy things in there – but hey, I am sure you  would expect nothing less from me!


Art Basel|Hong Kong: highlights

20 May

A few days in Hong Kong is never really enough, especially when Art Basel is on. The event itself is pretty exciting, with international exhibitors, launch parties, talks, satellite events and art nights in creative precincts making it a great destination for antipodean round eyes wanting to soak up as much international art as possible.

The VIP program was outstanding, and I particularly enjoyed the wonderful talk at Duddell’s on 20th Century Chinese brush paintings, an area which I have no scholarship, but a new found interest in a very beautiful art form. Fiona Hall’s talk was a wonderful insight into her practice, and upcoming 2015 Venice Biennial installation in the new Australian Pavilion in the Giardini.

In a sea of works under super bright lights on site, many highlights are worth mentioning… in pictures. Funny I can see some biases emerging! If you missed the show, check out some of the work online here.

What's not to love about Neo Rauch?

What’s not to love about Neo Rauch?

Harland Miller I Can Can I, 2014 watercolour on paper 152 x 121.5 cm Ingleby Gallery - Edinburgh

Harland Miller
I Can Can I, 2014
watercolour on paper
152 x 121.5 cm
Ingleby Gallery – Edinburgh

Jonathan Owen Untitled, 2014 carved 19th century marble bust with further carving 80 x 60 x 13.7 cm Ingleby Gallery - Edinburgh

Jonathan Owen
Untitled, 2014
carved 19th century marble bust with further carving
80 x 60 x 13.7 cm
Ingleby Gallery – Edinburgh

If you have to ask the price, you cant afford it.

If you have to ask the price, you cant afford it.



Crystal studded antlers mmmmm

Crystal studded antlers mmmmm


Morandi magic


Pony fetish


Vibha Galhotra – thousands of tiny bells and encaustic works of sediment in water

Tony Oursler - a brilliant use of micro projector

Tony Oursler – a brilliant use of micro projector

Myanmar time warp

26 Jan

I was fortunate enough to spend much of December and January in Myanmar (Burma) on an excellent adventure with my intrepid daughter. As there is little or no infrastructure there, and the government ruled by military junta, the state of the arts is in many ways rather grim.

National Museum, Yangon

National Museum, Yangon, looks modern and well kept on the outside…

There may well be a flourishing underground contemporary arts scene, but none we could find. The National Museum holds fascinating treasures, important archaeological and historical objects, however the condition of the building and the vast majority of its contents can only be described as woeful.

Caring for art and artefacts in tropical climates is challenging, especially if the materials and techniques of the works are not endemic to the region, for example photography, works on paper and oil paintings.  All examples of these types of cultural materials showed signs of degradation ranging from mild to severe, while the musical instruments, lacquerware, wooden artefacts, stone and ceramic fared better. Little or no climate control within the building envelope and unsympathetic display conditions have resulted in extensive corrosion for many metal artefacts. Dust, insect and physical damage combined with annual exposure to high relative humidity appears to have caused extensive damage to ornately beaded and metallic thread costumes.


Ceremonial Royal Dress worn by the last monarch of Burma, King Thibaw, prior to exile to India in 1885.

Works on paper appear to have acidic mounts, and are affected by mould, foxing, warping and acid burn, while paintings on canvas are warped, mouldy and blooming. Repairs to many stone images of the Buddha appear to have been made with proprietary adhesives, with many noses slipping slightly from their original positions.

Perhaps fortunately for the artefacts, but less fortunate for visitors, is that the lighting is very poor throughout the gallery, with intermittent fluorescents and the rare tungsten globe in a myriad of unused fittings. It is forbidden to take photographs in the museum and there are very few available on the web to illustrate my claims.

Over time, the government may change and seek to invest funds into the preservation of its national treasures. This will require enormous resources and keep conservators busy for a very long time. Its a great illustration of how prevention is better than cure, and also how privileged we are in developed countries to have access to such wonderful collections housed in well resourced facilities.

Cash Brown 2014